Joint Theatre Commands of Tri-Services


    In News

    • Recently, the Indian Defence Minister announced the setting up of joint theatre commands of the tri-services to enhance coordination among the armed forces.

    Joint Theatre Commands

    • Idea: 
      • The idea behind ‘Theatre Command System’ is to bring synergistic coordination between the three branches of the armed forces. 
      • Besides the operational synergies, the theatre command system will also contribute to more streamlined costs and a leaner fighting force. 
    • Aim: 
      • Bringing separate commands for the army, navy, air force under a unified command spearheaded by a single commander. 
      • The integration process would ultimately lead towards the unified military assets fused into one single command under one operational head who will be responsible for directing and controlling their activities in a given situation.
      • Further, the theatre command system aims to bring greater focus in the allocation of resources and help reduce redundancies.
    • There are two joint services commands in India: 
      • Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC): Based on the principle of theatre command system, ANC is considered to be the only one of its kind in the country that amalgamates the army, navy and air force.
        • Set up in 2001, ANC is based in Port Blair and is led by officers of the three services on a rotation basis. 
        • The command covers India’s strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the Malacca Strait.
      • Strategic Forces Command (SFC): As SFC takes care of the nuclear assets of India and is not related to any specific theatre of war.
    • Countries that follow Theatre Command System:
      • Various countries around the globe already have some form of theatre or joint command in place to bring better integration among their military forces. 
      • Notably, the USA was the first country to enforce a theatre command system with six geographical and four functional commands presently in place.
      • Russia also started with the restructuring of its defence forces in 2008 and has four theatre commands. 
      • China’s theatre command system is said to be based on the US model and has “five peacetime geographical commands”. Chinese Western Theatre Command covers the region along the Indian border.

    India as a Defence Exporter

    • India is moving quickly from being the world’s largest importer of defence equipment to an exporter.
    • The country has started defence exports worth Rs 13,000 crore and it has fixed a target to increase it to Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 crore by 2025-26.
    • Today, India is not the world’s largest importer but is among the top 25 nations engaged in defence exports.”


    • The integration of three forces under the Theatre Command System would require an intricate chain of command flow
    • It comprises hurdles related to operational command and control over assets
    • Besides, budgetary allocations, fund distribution and assets between the army, navy and air force need to be clearly worked out to enable the setting up of a seamless theatre command.
    • The three basic components of Indian defence forces are the army, navy and air force, each with its unique fighting profile, separate heads and multiple commands that are vertically split in terms of their command structure. 
      • The Indian Army and Indian Air Force have seven commands each while the Indian Navy has three commands. These commands are scattered across the nation and don’t coincide geographically.

    Way Ahead

    • Under the proposed four theatre commands: air defence, maritime, integrated eastern and integrated western theatre commands, will promote ‘jointness’ among the three branches of the armed forces. 
    • It will ensure increased coordination to boost the overall fighting capabilities of the Indian armed forces, create capacities to adapt to the requirements of hybrid warfare along with seamless command centres to meet future challenges.

    About the Kargil Diwas

    • Kargil Vijay Diwas is commemorated every 26 July in India, to observe India’s victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War for ousting Pakistani Forces from their occupied positions on the mountain tops of Northern Kargil District in Ladakh in 1999
    • Initially, the Pakistani army denied their involvement in the war, claiming that it was caused by Kashmiri militants. 
    • However documents left behind by casualties, testimony of POWs and later statements by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff Pervez Musharraf showed the involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces, led by General Ashraf Rashid.
    • Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated in honour of the Kargil War’s Heroes
    • This day is celebrated all over India and in the national capital, New Delhi, where the Prime Minister of India pays homage to the soldiers at Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate every year.


    Operation Vijay

    • In the year 1999, India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Agreement to mutually resolve the Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner.
    • However, the Pakistani troops began infiltrating toward the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) under Operation Badr which resulted in a conflict from India’ side too.
    • In India, the conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay, which was the name of the Indian military operation to clear out the Kargil sector.
    • The Indian Air Force’s role in acting jointly with Indian Army ground troops during the war was aimed at flushing out regular and irregular troops of the Pakistan Army from vacated Indian positions along the LoC.
    • This particular operation was given the codename Operation Safed Sagar.

    Source: BS